The Coup That Was Not a Coup

This post is the latest in an occasional series from our Bangkok correspondent, H. Numan.

Bangkok Reporting

Early Tuesday morning the Thai army took over control of the country. It’s not really a coup, because the government is still in place. Technically a coup d’état is only a coup if the government is replaced. However… it’s rather complicated:

The government not replaced was no longer active. It was a caretaker government in lieu of elections. The elections failed, due to protests of the ‘yellow shirts’ group and the resistance of the Democrat Party. New elections are planned sometime in July.

The caretaker premier, Ms. Yingluck, and her nine most senior cabinet members were removed from office due to a corruption scandal. This happened on 7 May.

So we have at this moment a caretaker cabinet where the caretaker premier is replaced by a caretaker for the caretaker premier.

No reason at all for the army to remove that government. Just let them be; they can’t do much against the army anyway. Therefore the coup wasn’t really a coup. Really complicated, what?

The army didn’t have to march out in force to take control of the city, either. They were already in place. Due to the political unrest, the state of emergency was declared three months ago, and the army set up checkpoints all over the city.

Until yesterday morning weapons were not visible — all you saw were bored soldiers sitting behind sandbags not doing much. The only visible change is that their M16s are no longer hidden away.

At this moment everything is as normal as can be. No demonstrations, no violence. Shops and banks are open; business as usual.

The red shirts (supporters of Thaksin, the ousted premier) announced they won’t come out in force. The yellow shirts (opponents of Thaksin) stated they were not in favor of the coup but won’t rally, either. Nor can they, even if they want, because both red and yellow shirt camps are surrounded by the army.

The military want all parties involved to start negotiating a settlement. They acted because they expected a new surge of violence. Or so they say. There are rumors going around that red shirts were recruiting troublemakers in Cambodia. Those rumors are just that: unconfirmed rumors.

This was Bangkok reporting,
H. Numan.

7 thoughts on “The Coup That Was Not a Coup

  1. We found out about it here in Lamphun early Tuesday morning when my wife received a phone call from one of her friends and when we tried to tune in to the Blue Sky channel, a TV channel set up by and devoted to the democracy movement, we were unable to do so. An announcement was made by the military on the Nation channel that Blue Sky and a number of other TV and radio stations loyal to one side or the other had been taken off the air.

    The democracy movement in Thailand has now discovered what we in the west discovered some time ago that most political parties and politicians do not care for the will of the people and only represent their own interests which more often than not means turning the national exchequer into their own personal piggy bank.

    At present all is quiet here which is good for us, especially as my wife supports the democracy movement in a heavily red shirted area. I will let you know if things change.

  2. It is 20.17 pm local time and we are under curfew.

    I do not know what things are like in Bangkok maybe Mr Numan can enlighten us but here in Lamphun, everything closed down at 8pm on the dot and I mean everything. In Lamphun Town all the restaurants and shops closed up early and our local Big C shut up at 7.45 leaving me in a bit of a quandry. We’d run out of cat food completely and I was down to my last bottle of Chang in the frig. The checkout beckoned and I was left in no doubt that it would close with or without me but I was equidistant from the petfood and alcohol counters leaving me with a rather unfortunate choice. Do I wake up tomorrow morning with a hangover and two hungry cats making a hell of a racket because I have nothing but cat pellets to feed them or do I forgo the beer? Sadly I opted for the latter but when my wife and I returned home to settle for a night in front of HBO, insult was added to injury. All but one of the TV stations had been closed down including BBC World, CNN and Russia Today. The only channel we could watch was what is known as the National Channel which started off with a chronicle of what the individual members of the Royal family did that day, the speeches they made, the tape they cut etc….ad nausiam and then it got worse. The two presenters said goodnight, the screen showed something resembling a test card while they played patriotic music at us. At least they didn’t read us Karl Marx.

    Obviously the military wants everyone off the streets but they should at least let us watch TV. At this rate it will be the internet next.

    And that, in short, is my position.

  3. The so-called rumour about the supposed recruitment of gun men in Cambodia was being strongly supported as gospel by my wife’s family down south in Chumphon over the last few days. My wife is also convinced it is true but she and her family are strongly behind the democracy movement. Believe it or not as you wish. The truth will out, one way or another.

  4. Thanks Mark, Just had an email from my friend Colin in Buriram. He says things are normal down there in the South East. We still have no normal TV just limited news reports and long interludes of patriotic music. Whatever channel I click on, I get the same programme. Hope they sort it out in time for the world cup.
    If this drags on, my wife and I are planning a protest party, plenty of beer and loud music and we will invite everyone in the village. Our garden is big enough. To hell with the military lockdown.

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